FTX approached crypto exchange OKX about deal before Binance agreed to possible takeover

By Hannah Lang

(Reuters) – FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried approached cryptocurrency exchange OKX Monday morning about a deal before he announced Tuesday that Binance had signed a nonbinding agreement to acquire FTX in the face of an apparent liquidity crunch, an OKX spokesperson said.

Although Bankman-Fried did not name a dollar amount, OKX declined to move forward with a deal, expressing concern that the consolidation of exchanges would be a step backward for the industry, the spokesperson said.

The deal between Bankman-Fried and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, known by his initials CZ, came as speculation about FTX’s financial health snowballed into $6 billion of withdrawals in the 72 hours before Tuesday morning.

The pressure on FTX came in part from Zhao, who had tweeted on Sunday that Binance would liquidate its holdings of the rival’s token, called FTT, due to unspecified “recent revelations.”

OKX leadership encouraged Bankman-Fried to “work things out with CZ,” arguing that it would be better if CZ agreed not to sell Binance’s FTT holdings “instead of making a monopolistic sale,” the spokesperson added.

Neither OKX or its sister exchange OKCoin, which is available to U.S. customers, had any exposure to FTX or Bankman-Fried’s crypto trading firm Alameda Research.

(Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)